Book review: Poldark’s Cornwall by Winston Graham

If you are already suffering Poldark withdrawal symptoms, why not follow in the author’s footsteps and wallow in all things Cornish?

Poldarks Cornwall by Winston Graham
Poldarks Cornwall by Winston Graham

This lavishly illustrated companion to Winston Graham’s beloved Poldark novels – reissued as the new BBC drama based on the 12-book series basks in the acclaim of millions of adoring fans – is another transport of dazzling delights.

Packed with stunning photographs of the rugged landscape and the author’s own thoughts and experiences of a county noted for its mysterious coves, windswept moors, picturesque villages, beaches, former tin mines and churches, Poldark’s Cornwall is a true Cornish odyssey.

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Manchester-born Graham, who died in 2003 at the grand old age of 95, was the author of more than forty novels, including Marnie, a nail-biting psychological thriller which was brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchcock in 1964.

But it was the thrilling and romantic Poldark family saga, written between 1945 and 2002 and set in the wilds of Cornwall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which won him worldwide fame.

The breathtaking landscapes that inspired the novels have remained relatively unchanged and this is reflected in the book’s amazing illustrations which include photographs of 19th century Cornwall.

In his introduction, Winston Graham’s son, Andrew, reveals that his father effectively wrote two autobiographies… the official book, Memoirs of a Private Man, and Poldark’s Cornwall in which Graham spoke more openly about himself than on any other occasion in his life.

And that, Andrew reckons, is probably because Graham was talking about the two things that he really loved – Cornwall and the Poldark characters he created.

The greatest love of the author’s life, though, was undoubtedly his wife Jean on whom Ross Poldark’s wife Demelza is partially based. ‘A part of Jean is there all the way through the Poldark novels,’ says Andrew.

The novels are written with an innate sense of optimism. However hard the going may seem, there is always a glimmer of hope and resilience in the human spirit that seems capable of fighting back.

And viewing the wonderful gallery of photos of Cornwall in the book enables readers ‘to journey where the imagination, the dreams and the reality of Winston Graham’s passions come together.’

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Beautifully produced and designed, Poldark’s Cornwall is a glorious evocation of a land of beauty, excitement and romance… and the perfect gift for addicts young and old.

(Macmillan, hardback, £20)